Brian Poe has a taste for the South. In fact, the chef/owner of the Tip Tap Room now has a whole restaurant devoted to it. Poe joins executive chef Eric Gburski (formerly of the East Coast Grill) and Gordon Wilcox of the Wilcox Hospitality Group (Parish Cafe, Lower Depths) at Estelle’s, a Southern-style restaurant just opened in the South End.
Estelle’s name comes from an old nightclub/restaurant that enjoyed a long and lively history in Roxbury. Evoking the sentiment of a homey hangout, Wilcox asked the original owner’s son if he could borrow the name, hoping to bring together the surrounding neighborhoods over good food and drink. That, after all, is how the trio behind Estelle’s originally bonded. “[Poe and Gburski] have a symbiotic relationship to begin with, and I just took advantage of it,” says Wilcox. “We’re all mutual friends, and we all have a love of Southern food.
For Poe, an Alabama native, Southern cuisine comes naturally. “It’s a vital part of the way I cook,” he says. “Eric, he’s got the style to bring that forward and make it modern.” Patrons at the 70-plus-seat Estelle’s can order from a menu heavily influenced by Poe’s step-grandmother, Leaty Drake. “There’s a lot of history,” adds Gburski. “We’re taking Southern cuisine, and it being a simple style of food, we’re continuing to maintain that.” Homestyle dishes include chicken fried steak and Ms. Leaty’s cheesy grits, made with molasses-grilled banana and candied pecans. Gburski’s also excited about the spicy-smoked chicken liver deviled eggs and the braised pork shank, served with tasso ham-lemon relish and mashed sweet potatoes. The team is working on a spiked sweet tea as well, something like white sangria with a Southern twist.
Estelle’s radiates Southern hospitality. It serves weekend brunch and keeps the kitchen open, and beer and wine flowing, until
2 am nightly. “By bringing this menu along, we’re going to be able to invite everybody in,” says Gburski. “There’s a lot of diversity here, and we’re trying to give them another house to be welcomed at and enjoy being a part of.”
782 Tremont St., Boston | 857-250-2999 | estellesboston.com